Disparate Liberal Debutante

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5/11/2006

Ecotourism

So here I am, back at my old university tyeing up some lose ends for my distance education courses that just started, and silly me thought it would take abou 3 hours to get everything done, that I need done. 40 minutes later and I'm sitting in the Bull Ring, (aka the student living room) typing e-mails away to my mother, my aunt, my ex boyfriend, and posting on a message board that I frequent. So, while I'm here with obviously nothing to do...I'm going to first bitch about the fact that I didn't take the third year ecotourism course that I really should have got signed up for. Now it's full, and I can't take it. Bummer.

In 1996 Tourism accounted for an estimated 10.6% of the gross global product, in that year over 595 million trips were made and that number only increased, enough that it is estimated that in 2010 there will be 937 million trips made. There was a total spending in 1996 of $3.6 trillion, and tourism made up for 10% of the words employed peoples. But what does this all do to the environment? Or how about the culture of those in the country that are being visited? At the Rio Summit, the Brundtland Report was published, exposing people to the term 'ecotourism'. The term was coined to promote sustainable tourism, so that there would be less environmental degradation and less dependence on tourist income, that leads to horrible economic instability with people.

There are two examples that I really like to use to show the real problems with these things. The first is Hawaii. In Hawaii, the culture has become a huge show. Their dance and rituals have been romanticized and are completely fake from what they should be. People come to get a unique experience of an exotic place, but what they are really seeing is the fabrication of the culture through the eyes of capitalist pigs. The people on the Island, become disconnected with their heritage, language and culture. I watched a movie on this in my geography class called “People and Space” (Space as in spatial land, I freaked out when I thought it was outer space and bitched and complained as to why an outer space course was required for a geography major...I felt silly.) And they did an interview with a woman who made a really great comparison. Their society is being fragmented, just as a habitat is fragmented. Just as a forest is cut into pieces for the benefits of agriculture or recreation, their society, their island and their culture is being fragmented. And just as an ecosystem will collapse if fragmented too much, their culture and society will do the same.

The next example is in Borneo, this is going to be very vague, as I don't remember any details from the show I watched on it. But in Borneo, there is a hotel that is locally run, and that is ecological stable. It is well away from human disruption, it is about a 2 day paddle ride to get to it. So the camera took us in, it is surrounded by forests, and looks so warm and tropical. The people that run it, live there, and its really all that they have. Around the end of their interview they make the announcement that their hotel is being torn down, and that a Hilton will be in its place. How disgusting is that? Honestly? I nearly cried.

Also, the people of that community that surround the current family owned hotel, are a very fragile and independent community. Even if jobs were provided by this new Hilton, the issue I have is that if a hurricane hits, or if that country all of the sudden has terrorist activity, or something then they lose everything. The trends in tourism are too unpredictable. The Hilton being a big hotel is going to exploit the local workers because they'll be able to get away with paying them shitty wages, but they'll still charge just as much for people to come stay at the hotel.

In regards to the 'eco' part of it, there is the danger of over consumption, like sewage water, and hydro in the area. There could also be cultural monuments and or statues. Like at the Great Wall of China, cheaply constructed hotels pay no regards to the history that lies within that. Then there is the noise pollution that will inevitably come, temporarily from construction, and more long term with parties, bars and all the rest that comes with North American vacation styles.

I don't see why people have to stay in resorts and Hiltons. If you're going to the country, then why don't you experience a bit of the culture and the land by staying in something more ethnic, and unique. North America doesn't have to, and shouldn't have to be every where on earth.

|| Kian, 9:08:00 AM